September 20, 2022
Anthropology PhD Candidate, Katyayni Seth, has recently published a paper, "Artifacts of Care: The Collection of Medical Records by Families in North India", based on fieldwork partially funded by the Saxena Center. The paper was published in Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry. Read the full paper.
Abstract: In India, where there is no centralized medical records system, biomedical care providers rely on families to explain their child’s illness and to carry records of any previous treatment the child may have received. Drawing on discussions of documentation, I argue that in the context of medical treatment for pediatric seizures, (1) families collect medical records to enable and shape their child’s medical treatment, and (2) such a merging of medical and familial care is necessitated by the nature of their child’s illness and the structure of the Indian healthcare system. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Meerut and New Delhi, this paper attends to practices of record keeping to understand the demands biomedical institutions place on families for the treatment of their child’s seizures. I examine the creation, maintenance, and movement of medical records to suggest that documents are a point of intersection between medical and kinship practices. They are artifacts of care that can narrate parallel histories of a patient’s illness and family-clinician efforts to alleviate a child’s suffering.